It can be tricky to have fun together when your family is partially made up of erratic, emotional, and needy toddlers. My husband and I have found that nothing – and I mean nothing – can ruin a family outing like the incessant whining of a toddler. And yet, having fun together is possible, you just have to be a little flexible, and get a little creative.
My family and I had such a good time together this past weekend. We didn’t haven any plans other then to be together and soak up the beautiful weather Ohio has been throwing our way. And soak it up, we most certainly did! Here is a little look into how we have fun together :-).
IMPROMPTU SNACKS AND MOVIE NIGHTS – IN
Mike and I don’t need fancy date nights to enjoy some quality time together. We kicked the weekend off by completing some important errands together, swinging my our favorite Chinese place for take out (lo mein! yummers!), and ended the evening on the couch, in our pjs, watching the great cinema classic, Fast and the Furious 4.
Together, we explored a new park. It had amazing trails, breathtaking views, and was the perfect way to enjoy the glorious, end of summer sunsets.
Theo loves to be outside as much as Mike and I do. He has so much energy it is downright unbelievable. We walked for miles that evening and he never slowed down for one minute.
PICNICS AT THE PARK
On Sunday, we wanted to take the kids to our nearest Metro Park for paddle boat rides buuuut, they were already closed for the season. Such a bummer! Summer activities should not be over while August is still on the calendar! Oh well.
The Metro Park is still one of the nicest parks to visit, so we took advantage of the beautiful scenery, a great play ground, and the picnic I had packed, and made the most of it.
Since having kids, I’ve discovered two simple truths about having fun with toddlers.
# 1 Get out of the house. You don’t have to spend a lot (or any, for that matter) of money to have fun. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. That’s why we enjoy exploring our local parks so much. It’s fun, free, and – bonus! Wears the kiddos out ;-).
# 2 Pack your own snacks. Kids, like their momma, get cranky when hungry. Don’t let this happen to you. Pack your own snacks no matter where you are hanging out with your children – even if it’s local! This tip has allowed many a family outing to continue past the point of those initial wines for food. It also saves you from scrambling to throw something together for the family once you’ve returned home!
Sometimes, you’ve just got to turn those every day, mundane tasks into an adventure in order to have fun. Last weekend we needed groceries, so instead of heading to our boring ole local grocery store, we packed the kids up and headed an hour north to Cleveland to our closest Trader Joes! (And yes, it is worth driving an hour just to grocery shop someplace as amazing as TJ :-).)
We shopped for groceries, including some ready-made items that we could eat for dinner afterwards. After loading the van with our groceries, we found some outdoor seating to enjoy our on-the-go dinner: sandwich wraps for the boys,and sushi and salad for Mike and me.
I think we (and by “we” I mean parents in general) tend to over complicate “fun.” Kids really don’t need much other than time with you. You don’t have to spend a lot. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy. Keeping things simple not only saves you money but it also allows you to truly enjoy each other a little bit more when you aren’t competing for attention with some chaotic special attraction.
Ultimately, here is the biggest thing I’ve learned about having fun with your little ones: Be you. Be real. And be in the moment! And of course, have fun :-).